Using Rofi for Agnostic Lightweight Window/App Management

Rofi is a super lightweight window switching and application launcher written entirely in C.  It’s totally agnostic to your desktop environment or window manager making it ideal to quickly search for or toggle between open windows and applications and other tasks.  It’s become an integral part of my daily workflow.


Why Rofi?
Being a long-time XFCE user (now back on vanilla XFCE) for my desktop environment I’ve sometimes found the default alt-tab window management lacking without a search facility.

Heavier DE’s like KDE or GNOME have had this functionality for some time but I don’t want to run those (and associated libraries and dependencies) for a few small quality-of-life improvements at the cost of completely re-arranging my rather simple, stays-out-of-my-way love affair with XFCE and usual workflow.  I just want to be able to search my open windows dammit!

Enter pal rofi, lending a hand here.

Installing Rofi
Your distribution may already have rofi packaged and available.  Below we’re going to be using Fedora as our example.

dnf install rofi -y

Running Rofi
There’s lots of runtime options for rofi, this blog post won’t cover them but the documentation is extensive as are the configuration options.  We’re just going to cover what you need to get up and running quickly.

To show/search or select open windows and applications (with a darker theme)

rofi -theme Arc-Dark -show window

If you start typing it will pattern match both the application and any window titles they might have.

Rofi provides a quick, unobtrusive way to list all of your running windows and applications.

I tie this to an XFCE keyboard shortcut (meta + w)

Rofi also makes for a great application launcher.  Running with the drun sub-command launches a lightweight searchable application launcher that can be used to launch any program on your system.

rofi -show drun -theme Arc-Dark

For XFCE users this functionality may not be all that useful as you already have whiskermenu which can do this, however folks running i3m, awesomewm or some other lightweight desktop environment might find this super useful.

Themes and Colors
Rofi comes with all kinds of themes to compliment your desktop environment or window manager setup.  You can run the following command to select one that works best for you.


Other Functionality
Rofi can also serve as an ssh launcher, dmenu replacement or a combination of all of these depending on what you’re doing.

Right now I’m just using it as a quick, super-fast way to search and switch between open windows and applications so I’m not really using near full potential.  Rofi, I can tell you and I are going to be great friends.

About Will Foster

hobo devop/sysadmin/SRE
This entry was posted in open source, sysadmin and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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